The family of a woman violently abducted from a home in Wasaga Beach is pleading for her safe return, while also releasing photos and more details in the hopes it will help in the search for Elnaz Hajtamiri.
“We feel helpless,” said Hajtamiri’s cousin from the U.S. “We’re desperate at this time to have something, anything that can lead us to her.”
The name of the cousin is being withheld out of concern for the family’s safety, but the family has verified their relation to Hajtamiri (who also goes by Tamiri) to CollingwoodToday.ca.
OPP reported Hajtamiri, 37, was taken from a home in Wasaga Beach on Jan. 12 around 8:30 p.m. by three Black men dressed as police claiming to have a warrant for her arrest.
When the people inside the home got suspicious, the men pushed past them, grabbing Hajtamiri and taking her from the home. They put her inside a white Lexus and drove away.
“We believe she is still alive, and we have hope that we can bring her home,” said the cousin. “We have no reason to believe otherwise.”
In an interview on Jan. 18, OPP Det. Insp. Matt Watson said Hajtamiri has no connection to any "nefarious activity" and no criminal record.
Few other details were reported by police, but Hajtamiri’s cousin said there was also an attack weeks before the abduction and Hajtamiri had fled to Wasaga Beach, trying to find a safe place to stay.
According to her cousin, Hajtamiri was attacked in the parking garage at her residence in Richmond Hill on December 21, 2021. She was, the cousin reported, pulled from her vehicle by two men and beaten with a frying pan so brutally she suffered a gash from her forehead to the back of her head, requiring about three dozen stitches.
The gash would still be visible, said Hajtamiri’s cousin, who urged people to consider that identifying mark when looking for glimpses of Hajtamiri on security footage or in public.
Hajtamiri's abduction is being investigated by the OPP who confirmed they are aware of the attack that occurred in Richmond Hill.
"OPP is aware ... and is working closely with York Regional Police to pursue this avenue of investigation," stated an email from Gosia Puzio of OPP Central Region media relations.
Prior to the parking garage attack, two tracking devices were discovered on Hajtamiri's vehicle when she returned it at the end of her lease for an inspection. Family members said the tracking devices were turned over to police and Hajtamiri purchased the vehicle.
Following the parking garage attack, police seized the vehicle as part of the investigation and found another tracking device on it.
The vehicle was in Wasaga Beach with Hajtamiri when she was abducted, but a statement from the family indicated there’s no evidence there was a tracking device on the car at the time it was parked in Wasaga Beach.
“She was terrified, scared for her life,” said Hajtamiri's cousin of the garage attack. “She was told to go to a safe house where she could stay until she figured out her next step.”
She was staying with relatives when the three men arrived at the door dressed as police and abducted her.
“They dragged Elnaz out of the house, she was barefoot in the snow,” said the cousin. “They took her watch and her cell phone and tossed them into the snow. She was screaming.”
But the screaming stopped right before Elnaz was pushed into the white Lexus RX. The cousin said witnesses watched the vehicle wait for about a minute before taking off.
Hajtamiri was born in Iran and was living there until 2018. Her husband died in 2017 after a short illness leaving Hajtamiri devastated, said her cousin. Hajtamiri had always loved Canada and was living a “quiet, peaceful life” in Richmond Hill until she was attacked.
Her family is pleading with the public to search for signs of Hajtamiri and/or her abductors.
“Please, please just look at her photos, look at her face, have you seen her? Look at your security footage before it expires, even for a glimpse,” said the cousin. “We just ask the community to please bind together to do everything we can to make sure she gets home safely and make sure this never happens to anybody again.”
To her abductors, the family’s message is simple:
“Just please let her go … if you spent enough time with her, you would understand this is a wonderful, kind, warm, educated, charitable woman,” said the cousin. “Just please drop her off, no questions asked, we just want to see her come back alive. She doesn’t deserve this, neither does her family.”
Though police have not confirmed the details shared by Hajtamiri’s family, the family said they are sharing the facts of what happened in the hopes they will help in the search for Hajtamiri.
“Maybe a neighbour or someone might be able to recognize her face … maybe somebody will come across something that will help bring her home,” said the cousin.
Tamiri is 160 cm (5'3") tall, slim build, with shoulder-length black hair.
"We continue to be concerned for the safety and wellbeing of Elnaz Hajtamiri," stated the email from OPP. "The OPP is utilizing all resources to locate the victim of the home invasion-style abduction."
Anyone with information on this abduction and home invasion or the location of Hajtamiri can call the dedicated tip line at 1-888-728-3415. Police and others are also using the hashtag #BringElnazHome on social media.